The Destruction of Jerusalem, Then…and Then Again
After pronouncing woeful curses upon Jerusalem (Mt 23), which would have shocked His disciples, Jesus’ followers posed two questions to our Lord. The first was “when” His pronouncements of judgment would come upon Jerusalem. The second question pertained to “what signs” would accompany Christ’s second advent at the end of the world.
Three interpretations predominate, in considering Jesus’ explanation in His Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and 25. The first view pushes Christ’s answer to some distant future. The second view claims that everything Jesus prophesied, on that day, was fulfilled in A.D. 70. Premillennial Dispensationalism, or the futurist view, would have no effect on the disciples in that generation. The Postmillennial Preterist view means Matthew 24–25 are meaningless Bible chapters for any believers after A.D. 70.
The third view is preferred because it is the view that makes Matthew 24–25 relevant, today, as it was also relevant to Jesus’ disciples in A.D. 33. The Amillennial Typological view sees the disciples’ two questions, and it believes that Jesus is answering both questions, in one discourse. The answer to the first question, “when” was relevant to His disciples, and spoke of the impending judgment against Jerusalem, in A.D. 70, when the Romans defeated ethnic Israel, and decimated the temple and city.
Thus, Roman General Titus fulfilled Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 24:2, “Do you not see all these things? Truly, I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” The prediction and fulfillment, in that generation, excludes Premillennial Dispensationalism, or rather, it forces advocates to press Scripture prophecies into their very complex, futuristic, eschatological system.
The meaning, of the fulfilled prophecy of Jerusalem and the temple’s destruction, is that God had judged that generation of Jews for murdering Jesus Messiah. The local destruction would also serve, typologically, for the future destruction of the earth (Is 65–66; Rev 18–20).
The second question, posed by Jesus’ disciples, had two parts. The first pertained to the sign of Christ’s coming. The second part inquired into the sign of the end of the world. It is quite obvious that the visible, bodily return of the glorified King of kings did not occur in A.D. 70. Therefore, this element of the Olivet Discourse remains very important to believers, today. This excludes the Postmillennial Preterist view. This flawed view has all of the terrifying events of Jesus’ sermon occurring entirely with the Roman invasion, experienced by some who heard Jesus on that occasion.
The two-part second question must be taken as answered in one event. The event is the return of Jesus Christ and marks the end of this present evil age. The age to come, spoken on in the New Testament, is the coming of eternity future. The end of this age is the end of the world, for that is when the final judgment, by King Jesus, will be executed.
The mistake of one view, and the mistake of the second view, offset one another. Constraining Matthew 24–25 to A.D. 70 denies the meaning of Christ’s return at the end of the world. Pushing the events to some future date denies the reality of their occurrence in the first century. How can we resolve these errors, and find a better interpretation?
First, our Lord Jesus Christ is coming again, bodily, visibly, and with great glory, seen by all humanity. This is a future event.
Second, just as Jesus warned His disciples to prepare for the impending destruction of their capitol city and magnificent temple, believers in every generation must prepare for the impending tribulation, before Christ’s second coming. Every generation, onward from that first generation, has experienced the birth pangs, anticipating Messiah the Judge.
Third, when the question of Christ’s return, at the end of the present age, was posed, the disciples’ request was for a sign. Our Lord Jesus was most gracious in His revelation of future events, locally in some forty years, and at the end of the world. He gave multiple signs for each event, as He answered both questions posed in 24:3.
Later in His discourse, He said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place (24:34).” Jesus did not lie, as Premillennial Dispensationalism suggests, by pushing the events to a distant future beyond, “this generation.” No, the events occurred in A.D. 70, as Jesus accurately foretold. Those events, however, were not the end of the story, as the Preterists misinform us.
The fulfilled events of A.D. 70, predicted by Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse, serve as an historical type of the end of the world, when Christ shall come again. Therefore, it behooves us to read Matthew 24 and 25 with an eye on the disciples’ two questions. It will benefit the reader who observes Jesus’ response, as foretelling two separate events. We must see the first event in A.D. 70, and we must see the second event in the future, at the end of the world. What will that future event be like? Look no further than the terrors of A.D. 70, as foretold by our Lord Jesus Christ, in His Olivet Discourse and recorded in history books for two thousand years.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 6, 2021